Faculty Spotlight: David Watson

Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Associate Professor of New Testament

1 | What Do You Like Most About Teaching at United?
I love the dialogue with students, whether in person or in online discussions. Lecturing is necessary and can be an effective means of teaching when done well, but being in dialogue with students helps me to see what they have learned, what they are missing, what I’ve communicated effectively, and what I have not. Good classroom dialogue can also lead to discussions of ways in which the historical, social-scientific, and theological ideas we discuss in the classroom are relevant to the everyday work of Christian ministry. On top of all that, I find myself challenged by my students, learning even in the process of teaching.

2 | Tell Us About a Significant Project You’ve Worked on Outside of Teaching for United.
I’m currently working on a book for Fortress Press called Honor Among Christians: The Cultural Key to the So-Called Messianic Secret. I’m interested in looking at passages in Mark’s gospel in which Jesus tries to curb the spread of information about his deeds and identity. For example, sometimes he tells people not to tell others of healings he has performed. He silences demons and won’t allow Peter and the other disciples to spread word that he is the Messiah. My approach is to understand these passages in terms of honor and shame, values that permeated every aspect of life for ancient Mediterranean people. Basically, I’m arguing that Jesus is trying to demonstrate a new way of living, one in which you do not seek widespread glory for yourself, but rather demonstrate humility, service, and a willingness to sacrifice personal reputation for the sake of Christ.

3 | Any Advice for Current and Incoming Students?
I have two bits of advice:

Pray. Ask God to be a part of every step of this journey, to guide you in your times of discernment, and to teach you by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Manage your time well. Many students come in with jobs, churches, families, and other responsibilities. It’s commonly the case that well intentioned students end up taking on too much. This not only hurts them with regard to their studies, but can affect other aspects of their lives, such as their church work or their physical wellbeing. You only go through seminary once, so you should make the best of it. Allow yourself enough time for your studies, but also for prayer, family time, and personal time (such as exercise and devotion). Students who develop these habits now will be even more effective ministers down the road.

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detail from a tapestry of a lamb, flag, and Bible